Thursday, November 22, 2012

A little on the ICW and Charleston

Happy Thanksgiving to everyone!

The Atlantic Coast Intracoastal Waterway, (ICW) runs along the east coast and begins at mile 0 at Norfolk, Virginia. The waterway is used by local boaters, boaters cruising north and south, and some commercial ships as well. We have seen mega yachts, little cruisers, trawlers, crab boats, small and large sailboats, and many small craft with fisherman and hunters. The waterway is definitely utilized, and like many inland lakes the local economies depend on the business the ICW attracts.

The need for a waterway was realized during the Revolutionary War. The thirteen colonies spanned an area from Boston to St. Mary’s, Florida. Thomas Jefferson felt that if the colonies existing waterways were connected with a series of canals, national security would be enhanced. Although some states started working on canals, and some progress was made, it was not until the Federal Government passed The Rivers and Harbors Act in 1909 that real progress started to be noticed. A proposal was originally made in 1808, but was never funded. Individual states worked on canal systems without a lot of coordination until 1909. Some states granted or sold the rights to build the canals to the private sector, which resulted in sections of the ICW being independently owned. The owners would dig a canal joining two waterways and charged travelers a toll to recover their investment. When profits were poor many of the companies failed to maintain the canals. As a result, in the early 1900’s government began to nationalize the waterway, reclaiming the land between the natural bodies of water that had previously deeded to private companies.  The only government agency with the engineering skills needed to complete and maintain the ICW was the Army Corps of Engineers. The progress on the waterway remained slow until a couple of decades later when national security again began to be an issue. The fact that there were U Boats in the Atlantic off of the American coast emphasized the need for the waterway.  In the 1930’s funds were provided for the waterway to be completed.

The controlling depth of the ICW is supposed to be 12 feet. We have gone through several 6 foot areas. We are told that the funding for dredging has not been available to the extent it has been in the past. Like everything else it seems the ICW is subject to the bad economy our government has created. We have been fine just being careful watching our depth…we only draw 4 ½ feet, but have seen other boats with deeper drafts have issues. The ICW is a great experience, and a chance to see areas of east coast from a different perspective. It is not so much a water highway…I think our prospective is sometimes influenced by modern ideas…highways, expressways, and such, but natural bodies of water connected by canals. For that reason the route meanders along with many twists and turns.
Since this part of the waterway runs so close to the Atlantic, and we have lost so much time due to bad weather, we have been looking for a weather window to sail off shore…a straight shot as opposed to the meandering path. The inlets that we will use are of importance as well. Many of the inlets on the East Coast are not easy to navigate, especially not easy in bad weather.  We are in Charleston today and will be leaving tomorrow.

Reminds me of "Fields of Gold"
Don't happy!
Not many of these around...
Shirl liked this little house...out on a point with palm trees
Pelican in flight
The captain of this vessel asked me not to cross his bow but to wait and go behind him. I said OK
Charleston...streets with old buildings lined with palm trees
More of Charleston
Streets of stone

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